Backyard Duckonomics

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by ChicagoDucks, Nov 10, 2012.

  1. ChicagoDucks

    ChicagoDucks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 27, 2012
    I've been thinking about how economical my ducks are or are not lately.
    How does everyone else look at the financial costs & benefits of their backyard ducks?
    Do your costs look anything like mine?

    We have 6 ducks right now: 2 KC drakes, 1 KC duck, 2 Rouen ducks and a Cayuga/Rouen cross duck. With this combination, and what I know about how well these ducks lay, I am expecting to get around 650 eggs in 2013.

    Feed & supplements cost me around $40 per duck per year. I usually buy conventional commercial feed which runs about $18 to $20 per 50lbs bag. Calcium, vitamin supplements & apple cider vinegar run less than $20 per year. I have 6 ducks and I use a 50lbs bag every month, though they seem to eat more in the fall than in the summer.

    Straw bedding probably costs about $50 per year, give or take.

    My coop was pretty inexpensive. Most of it was scrap from other home improvement projects. We bought around $50 worth of special hardware for the coop (hinges, door closer, etc). I'd peg the total value of the coop at $150. Given the cheap materials, it will probably last around 7 years before it needs to be renovated or replaced, so the annualized cost (or depreciation) is around $21.50 per year.

    Acquiring the stock probably cost the same as everyone else's ducks, around $3 per duckling. Some are descended from feed store ducks that I bought for $2.50 a piece. Some are from shipped eggs (a dozen for $60). My home-made incubator cost me around $60 in parts, but it should last as long as I want to hatch eggs. Each duck lays for around 4 years, so the annual cost of stock acquisition per year of productive egg laying is about $0.75

    We use a lot of water for the ducks, about 22 gallons per day in the summer and about 7 gallons per day in the winter. I know that I spoil these creatures with water. However, our rain-barrels provide almost all the water for about 9 months of the year, so there really isn't much of a cost for the ducks' water.

    The most expensive cost to me right now would be land cost, if I include it in the calculation. My ducks have the run of my 2,500 square foot side-yard in the city. We use this yard for lots of things (veggies, fruits, BBQ grill, space for the kids to play, etc), so it is not quite fair to hoist the full cost on the ducks. In any case, I pay around $400 per year in taxes for my 2,500sf side-yard, which works out to be around $6,970 per acre, or about 20 times the typical annual lease rate for prime agricultural land in Illinois. Or about $0.62 PER EGG! Crazy. So I won't include it in the tabulation

    So here is what our costs look like for the ~650 eggs we'll get in 2013:

    Total Cost​
    Cost per dozen Eggs
    Coop /yr​
    Stock /yr​

    We eat, bake with or share all of the eggs we get (except for a hand-full that we hatch). If we didn't have our duck eggs, we'd probably buy free-range chicken eggs at the grocery store for $2.65 per dozen. This works out to be difference between our eggs and store bought eggs of $172 per year. At the local farmers' markets, though, free-range duck eggs cost between $6 to $12 per dozen, so it is still a great deal.

    The ducks entertain us and eat pests in our yard about 10 hours a day, every day of the year. If you think of the $172 difference as kind of like their salary for entertaining us, it works out to be an hourly wage for our ducks of less than one cent per hour per bird.

    If we gradually replace our laying ducks with all Khaki Campbells, here is what the numbers will look like. We'll get about 1,200 eggs per year and,

    Total Cost​
    Cost per dozen Eggs
    Coop /yr​
    Stock /yr​

    our duck eggs will cost about the same as what we pay at the grocery store for free-range chicken eggs. And we get all of the entertainment and pest control for free.

    Ducks: totally worth it.
  2. CelticOaksFarm

    CelticOaksFarm Family owned, family run

    Sep 7, 2009
    Florida - Space Coast
    your free range grocery store eggs are OLD and not truly free range. Your duck eggs are more nutritious because they are really free range
  3. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    My first egg cost over a thousand dollars.[​IMG]That's what my beloved said, anyway.

    I have crunched the numbers and we may be closer to $8 a dozen, but it depends on how you slice it.

    Absolutely worth it, in terms of nutrition, all the garden fertilizer that I do not have to buy, the goodwill with friends, neighbors and coworkers, the ease of mind during egg recalls . . . .

    Glad you have some firm numbers.
  4. Carcajou

    Carcajou Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 3, 2012
    Delhi, New York
    Hi Chicago Ducks! I have not crunched my numbers but they would probably be a close match to yours. However, I feel I gain a tremendous benefit in fewer snails, slugs, grubs, insects, and pond weeds, and oh yes, fertilizer. Snail control and pond weed foraging where my initial criteria for purchasing ducks.

    Plus I just love them and wouldn't trade them for anything! My flock and I are evolving together and after 1 1/2 years of owning ducks I wonder how I ever got along without them. To me the eggs are a side benefit but I am starting to sell some and may at some point begin to break even. Again this would be a bonus because I am hooked and think I will always have some around just for the privilege and pleasure of having them in the family.
  5. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

    May 24, 2011
    On, Canada
    wow, you have definitely thought all this out lol

    I couldn't tell you for me unless your into this professionally i doubt you'd find much of a financial return, for most it's more about knowing where their food comes from and the by product of pest control, pets and general enjoyment of raising livestock.

    I noticed billboards of do you know where your eggs came from? LOL, yes actually i do and i know exactly what there fed and how there kept [​IMG]
  6. Diamond88

    Diamond88 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 25, 2012
    Wow! You've certainly put a lot of thought into this. And, it's great that you've concluded the ducks are worth it! I don't mean to sound nosey or pesky, but as a Chicago native, I'm curious. What neighborhood do you live in where you were able to find 2,500 sq ft of yard? I'd love that! I'm moving to California soon, but I'm sure I'll be back to Chicago someday. [​IMG]
  7. Buxton Ducks

    Buxton Ducks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 16, 2012
    Buxton, Maine
    I do enjoy the fresh eggs, but even when they are old and no longer laying, I will enjoy their cuteness! You certainly won't get rich selling eggs, but it is a good hobby with lots of health benefits in my opinion.
  8. HauiBali

    HauiBali Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 1, 2012
    Kecskemét, Hungary
    Also reading these forums and being part of this great community as an - even very noobish - duck-keeper is absolutely priceless. I love my ducks optimism: it's raining? Let's roam! The pond is glazed with ice? Let's jump in! They love everything they do, and they diligently search for bugs under the fallen leaves, no matter there are none already. And when I sing them to their coop when the night falls I feel like a fairy-tale magician character, every day. It's just nice to have ducks. With their smart behaviour they make it easy to wait for spring for the first eggs. :)
    1 person likes this.
  9. ChicagoDucks

    ChicagoDucks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 27, 2012
    We're in the Beverly neighborhood and we have a double lot. It is a great neighborhood, and there are quite a few folks with backyard fowl.

    This year (2012) we spent a lot of time & energy raising a new generation of ducks with a complete turn-over of our flock. We'll probably end this year with just under 200 eggs, which puts our eggs at about $19.00 per dozen!!! Even though this year hasn't been very cost-effective (in terms of eggs), I agree with the other posters on the thread that keeping ducks is not just about the return. I agree with what Carcajou said, that it hard to imagine what we did before the ducks! It has been wonderful watching the ducks, seeing their personalities, eating fresh fantastic eggs, and teaching the kids about where food comes from and how to work to raise your own food.

    I intentionally left out of my cost calculation the money spent on frozen peas and fresh lettuce for the ducks. These treats weren't really for the ducks--mainly just for me to enjoy the company of those goof-balls.

    Even though I have no regrets about our $19/dz eggs this year, I do think it is important to be cost-conscious about this sort of thing. We'll never compete with $0.99/dz grocery store eggs (not that we'd ever want to!!!) but there is really good value to be had when you can get great, fresh eggs from your backyard for less than a dollar per egg. When the costs of backyard fowl get low enough that they can easily compete with buying farm-stand or CSA fresh eggs, then responsibly raising fowl is something that almost anyone can afford to do in good times or bad.

    After taking a close look at the numbers, I can see that a larger duck operation would need some inexpensive land and it would definitely need to get a handle on feed costs!! $40 in feed per duck per year would get to be pretty expensive pretty fast! I wonder, at what point it is more cost effective to buy bulk feed than picking it up in 50lbs bags at the store?
  10. new2ducks

    new2ducks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 20, 2012
    I never crunched any numbers but good for you! (not a math person)
    I just love my ducks! I think the biggest cost to me though is the frozen peas! lol
    Definately going to plant peas next year![​IMG]

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